A WORD IN THE HAND: DIGNITY
Return of the studied dig shows you Kant put a worthy verb down
A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd
There have been many complaints about the coronavirus lockdown being an assault on human dignity. Putting aside for a minute the appalling conditions under which some must see out their quarantine, the question as to whether it is undignified to imprison people in their homes can be answered with another question: which would you rather have – your life or your dignity?
According to some definitions, it is not possible to rob anyone of their dignity, no matter what you do to them. Philosopher Immanuel Kant (stop sniggering, you word-players) held that dignity was an inherent, inalterable and immovable core embedded in every rational human being. In other words, dignity is not something that can be dismissed, assaulted or dug out.
Dignity has been an English word for more than 800 years. It comes from the Latin root dignus, meaning “worth” or “worthiness”, but in English it later also came to describe the manner of a person too important and serious ever to indulge in humour, fun or anything else considered beneath their dignity...